I wrote this yesterday morning, thought I would share!
I’m sitting on a golden slab of granite that forms the shore of Tenaya Lake. There is something about the air today, the light, that is so different than how it was just a few weeks ago. Even yesterday, the mountains felt summery, with white light and a hot sun. But today, it’s early fall in the Sierras.
I remember this past spring, hiking out on the Dana Plateau, melting ice and snow crunching under foot. I remember the winter, at this very lake, how its surface was frozen and I walked out to the very middle and twirled around on my hiking shoes like a figure skater. I know late fall here, driving through Tioga Pass on our way to Bishop, everyone daring each other to jump in the icy water. We all do it. And of course, I remember the summer here–whispy afternoon clouds, Budd creek lowering to a trickle and then eventually drying entirely. This lake is inviting on those days, something we dream of when we’re out in the high country, we run down to the meadows from rugged Sierra peaks just for the chance to take a dip in its glittering water before the sun sets and everything gets cool again.
Out of everything the mountains have taught me, the most prominent idea is this–everything changes.
We work in cycles. Whatever is now will someday not be. Perhaps it will come again, perhaps not. Impermanence is the how and the why.
Everything dies–the emotion you’re feeling right now, cravings and desires, attitudes, our bodies. We all know this, yet we cling to certain things as if our grasping has some effect on keeping them around. Things come and go with very little regard to our holding on to them, we have no control, it’s all in a state of perpetual motion, as fleeting as the seasons.
With this being known, the one thing we have for sure is a dose of freewill to do with our lives what we please, to live in a way that honors all of the receiving and all of the fleeting. This summer left me with this declaration–I did not come here to be miserable. I have said this to people before, and it’s met with rolled eyes and comments about how naive I am. That, I do not understand. A person who isn’t miserable these days is so feared, like a stranger, a rebel.
Of course, sadness will be experienced. Suffering is bound to occur. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about misery, the kind that cages us, makes us less loving, more angry, hopeless.
We’re eating dinner, late. I say, I think I know one thing for sure.
He asks, What is it?
I did not come here to be miserable. I pause, kind of expecting the usual response of “oh just wait honey,” or “life is suffering” or “you’re only 25”. But that’s not what he says.
Of course not. You came here to party. He smiles wide.
One of our greatest fears is the fear of not belonging. I truly feel like I was born a joyful person, you probably feel like that too, but then we open our eyes and we see a world that is miserable. Everywhere, reasons why things aren’t okay, reasons to be depressed. Your family isn’t perfect, that really shitty thing happened to you, your boss is mean, you have crow’s feet. Let’s! All! Be! Discontent! And so we all act miserable, together, because that’s what the masses are, and we want to belong. Sometimes I find myself saying I’m miserable about something that happened just because I think I should be, because everyone else is miserable about it. Sadness, the quiet, calming kind, is not enough, you’ve gotta be soul-crippling miserable if you want to fit in here. If I’m not depressed about this or that, well, I must not be dealing with things, living in denial.
Our natural state is that of joy, curiosity, and love. All of our misery comes from a rejection of that. One of my friends was telling me about a close friend of his that died, and he was speaking of the whole situation so beautifully, like it was all a blessing, in no way miserable, how it changed him. But then he got quiet, and amended the whole thing–Well, not to make a terrible situation sound so positive, he said. Like if he spoke about something sad in a positive way that I would think he was a heartless asshole or something.
I think I love the mountains because it’s okay to be happy out there. But even so, if you’re too happy, or too psyched, someone will say something. They’ll call you out, make you feel out of place, like if you’re this happy, somehow you’ve had it easy, or you’re completely delusional. We’ve all been through tough shit. I don’t care how “bad” someone else thinks your shit is in comparison to their shit, shit is still shit. I also like being around children because, like the mountains, you can be happy around them without being looked at like you’re a big liar.
I am not miserable and I’m not sorry about it anymore. I’m not here for that. I’m here for the sweet stuff–my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my pups, the mountains, salty oceans, running through dark forests, snow-capped summits, alpine lakes, wildflowers, people with good laughs, stories about how things used to be, pizza, coffee, ice cream, good books, good deeds, good wine, hearty handshakes, eye contact, compliments, thank you notes. And that’s about it. To all of the things in our world that say, you’re a victim! and you should hate yourself! and you should be miserable!–I say no thank you. I know how that story goes, and it’s just not natural, it goes against what we’re actually made of, that everything changes. It makes us sick. I’m here for love and all that that word encompasses–joy and freedom, but also sadness and loss. I’m just not interested in the emotions that lock me in a cage, because allowing them to be a part of our experience is how we do that thing called wasting our lives. I want this life to be in line with how I truly, naturally am–joyful.
I want that for everyone.